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The spokesman said that the Muslim Brotherhood’s form of governance will be different than that of Turkey. “In Turkey, women may go to university without a headscarf. They have adultery and homosexuality. We will not allow that in Egypt,” he said. A spokesman for Hamas admitted that the group wants the Brotherhood to win, saying, “We have the same ethics as the Muslim Brothers, the principles are the same.”
The Muslim Brotherhood has been building a political operation for decades through mosques and social services and its advantages showed. It’s been reported that each Brotherhood operative was asked to deliver 100 votes. The Brotherhood registered a huge amount of voters and by some accounts, had 30,000 volunteers working in Alexandria alone. Six operatives were at each polling station.
In Tunisia, the Islamist Ennahda Party exceeded expectations and took 41% of the vote. Middle East expert Barry Rubin subsequently adjusted his projection for Egypt. He now believes the Islamists will take around half of the seats in parliament. Samuel Tadros is even more pessimistic and talks of the Islamists possibly winning a two-thirds majority. “It is quite apparent to anyone that has been paying attention that their victory will be nothing short of a tsunami,” he wrote.
Tadros predicts that the results of the election will dispel numerous comforting myths in the West. His opinion is that the weaknesses of the secularists will be exposed. The main competing forces, he says, will be the Brotherhood and the Salafists and not the secularists and the Islamists. The Sufis and Brotherhood splinters will not perform well and the secular Wafd Party will not come in second place, as some polls showed. Tadros believes that the largest non-Islamist force will be the Egyptian Bloc of three parties, led by the Free Egyptian Party, which almost all Christians will vote for.
One of the Islamists’ main advantages is that the secularists are extremely divided. In Tunisia, almost all of the 59% that did not vote for Ennahda chose liberal parties. Over the weekend in Morocco, the Islamist PJD had the highest vote total and won 107 of the 395 seats, but most of the rest went to non-Islamists. If the Islamists dominate the first round of voting, it might encourage these non-Islamist forces to rally behind one candidate in the run-off and to coordinate their campaigns in future votes.
It is also possible that the Muslim Brotherhood will face a backlash for cutting a deal with the military council and pulling out of protests against it. Secular activist Mohamed Ghoneim said that the protesters were “very, very disappointed” in the Brotherhood. Wael Nawara of the Democratic Front Party didn’t mince words and said, “The Muslim Brothers really screwed this revolution. They’ve done everything possible to monopolize and hijack the revolution.”
The future of Egypt, and perhaps the region, will be decided over the next few months. This initial vote will tell us where the Middle East is headed, and so far, it doesn’t look good.
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